NBC opens sweep with victory

Morning Ratings Flash - Rick Kissell

NBC, with some help from its “Friends,” Madonna and “ER,” opened the May sweep Thursday with a decisive victory in key demographics, according to preliminary nationals from Nielsen. The Peacock topped second-place CBS by 45% in adults 18-49 – its biggest win over a firstrun “Survivor”-“CSI”-“Without a Trace” lineup on the Eye since November.

NBC also won the night in total viewers, edging out CBS, the Thursday season-to-date leader in this category. Fox did OK but nothing special with its new Michael Jackson special, while ABC moved up to second in some categories at 10 with its “Primetime” interview with the Dixie Chicks.

An original “Friends” (9.4/28 in adults 18-49, 19.9 million viewers overall) combined with a repeat of the comedy at 8:30 (9.5/26 in adults 18-49, 19.8 million viewers overall) to defeat CBS’ “Survivor” (6.4/18 in adults 18-49, 18 million viewers overall) by a big 47% in 18-49 and by about 20% in adults 25-54.

From 9 to 10, an original “Will & Grace” and a 15-minute clips show produced a first-place 9.3/23 in adults 18-49 and 18.1 million viewers overall (second to CBS’ “CSI”). And “ER” closed out the night with its best numbers since February (10.0/26 in adults 18-49, 20.7 million viewers overall), topping the combined demo scores of ABC’s “Primetime” (5.0/13 in adults 18-49, 12.9 million viewers overall) and CBS drama “Without a Trace” (4.6/12 in adults 18-49, 14.4 million viewers overall).

At CBS, “CSI” led its hour in adults 25-54 (10.8/24) and key male demos in addition to its customary easy victory in total viewers (24.7 million).

Fox’s Jackson spec, “Michael Jackson’s Private Home Movies” averaged a 3.2/9 in adults 18-49 and 7.9 million viewers overall – solid numbers for Fox on the night but down nearly 50% from what the net scored with its Jackson spec in February.

ABC was quiet aside from the second-place 18-49 finish at 10 for “Primetime.” At 8, “All-American Girl” (1.2/3 in adults 18-49) will likely finish sixth for its hour, while a “Primetime” special at 9 on the Laci Peterson murder case (2.6/6) ran fourth among the major nets.

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: NBC, 9.6/25; CBS, 6.6/17; Fox, 3.2/9; ABC, 2.9/8.

In total viewers: NBC (19.5 million) edged past CBS (19.0 million).

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